History

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1951

  1. The federal government convenes the Australian Conference for Native Welfare, with all states and territories represented except Victoria and Tasmania, which claim to have no Aboriginal ‘problem’. The conference officially adopts a policy of ‘assimilation’ for Aboriginal people.

    "Assimilation means, in practical terms, that it is expected that all persons of Aboriginal birth or mixed blood in Australia will live like white Australians do.[1]

1952

  1. In a progressive decision, the Minister for Territories, Paul Hasluck, earmarks all statutory royalties raised on Aboriginal reserves to be held in trust for Aboriginal people. All royalties raised on Aboriginal land are foregone by the Commonwealth and paid to a new institution, the Aboriginals Benefit Trust Account (ABTA).

1953

  1. The Northern Territory Welfare Ordinance makes Aboriginal people wards of the government, basically making Aboriginal adults and children, minors.

  2. Atomic tests are conducted on Maralinga lands at Emu Field, South Australia. They are code named Operation Totem. A black cloud passes and hundreds of families are forced to leave their homelands because of severe contamination. Further atom tests followed in 1956 at Maralinga, South Australia - Operation Buffalo.
    10 years after the Australian government declared the clean-up of Maralinga as completed (in 2001) erosion continues to expose radioactive waste repositories.

    The remarkable thing really, is how little [radioactive material] we buried. — Alan Parkinson, retired nuclear engineer [2]

1954

  1. Queen Elizabeth visits Australia for the first time and in Canberra signs the Aborigines Welfare Ordinance 1954 that permits the ethnic cleansing of the Australian Capital Territory, clearing it of resident Aboriginal people.

1957

  1. Atomic testing (Operation Antler) at Maralinga, South Australia. The presence of Aboriginal people on the test site is documented.

  2. Formation of the NADOC - National Aboriginal Day Observance Committee (later: NAIDOC, with the ‘I’ for ‘Islanders’).

  3. Victorian Aborigines Welfare Board replaces the Board for the Protection of Aborigines. The Welfare Board is abolished in 1967.

  4. In the Northern Territory the powers of the Chief Protector over Aboriginal children are repealed.

  5. 10 June

    The Palm Island workforce demonstrates and strikes against unfair wages and apartheid. In response, the Queensland government dispatches 20 police to put the rebellion down. At gunpoint, 7 men and their families are shipped off the island in leg irons and transported to settlements on the mainland.

1958

  1. 13 February

    Federal Council for the Advancement of Aborigines is set up. It group brings together a number of civil rights and Aboriginal welfare organisations. Its work plays a large part in bringing about the 1967 referendum. In 1964 the title changes to Federal Council for the Advancement of Aborigines and Torres Strait Islanders (FCAATSI).

1959

  1. Margaret Williams is the first Aboriginal university graduate with a diploma in physical education. [3]

1960

  1. The Western Australian Department of Native Affairs ceases forcefully taking Aboriginal children from their parents and sending them to missions.

  2. Despite their enormous talents, an Aboriginal player wasn't selected in the Australian team until 1960. His name is Lionel Morgan. Morgan plays two tests against the French and later that year in the World Cup squad. He also plays with Aboriginal player (and eventual Test cap) George Ambrum at Wynnum Manly.

  3. Aboriginal people become eligible for social service benefits.

1961

  1. At the Native Welfare Conference ministers agree to strategies to assist assimilation of Aboriginal people. These include the removal of discriminatory legislation and restrictive practices, the incorporation of Aboriginal people into the economy through welfare measures and education and training and the education of non-Aboriginal Australians about Aboriginal culture and history. After the conference, all states and territories amend their legislation.

    The conference marks the beginning of a modern land rights movement and widespread awakening by non-Aboriginal Australians to claims for justice by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. The South Australian Premier Sir Thomas Playford argues for integration rather than assimilation of Aboriginal people.

1962

  1. Aboriginal right to vote: Federal elections 2007
    Aboriginal right to vote. A lot of Aboriginal people exercised their right to vote in the 2007 federal elections which kicked the Howard government out of parliament.

    The Commonwealth Electoral Act is amended to give Aboriginal people in Queensland, Western Australia and the Northern Territory the right to vote in federal elections. Aboriginal people are not made to register, but once they have, voting is compulsory for them, as it is for every Australian. Compulsory enrolment is not required until 1984.

  2. The Aboriginal Affairs Act in South Australia reconstitutes the Aborigines Protection Board and South Australian Department of Aboriginal Affairs. The Act also limits mining on reserves by non-Indigenous people.

  3. In NSW the prohibition on Aboriginal access to alcohol is removed.

1963

  1. Mining company BHP and the Church Missionary Society at Groote Eylandt, Northern Territory sign an agreement providing lump sum payments and royalties for use of land by BHP.

References

View article sources (3)

[1] 'Timeline of legislation affecting Aboriginal people', DECS Curriculum Services, www.aboriginaleducation.sa.edu.au
[2] 'Ten years after the all-clear, Maralinga is still toxic', SMH 12/11/2011
[3] 'Doctor Dylan achieves for his people', Daily Telegraph 9/4/2012

Harvard citation

Korff, J 2019, Timeline results for , <https://www.creativespirits.info/aboriginalculture/timeline/searchResults?page=12>, retrieved 21 November 2019

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